URLs du Jour


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  • Truth is the first casualty in war. And when the FDA is declaring the war, the next victims are … actual dead people. John Tierney looks at the latest: FDA's War on Juul Is Bad Health Policy.

    The Food and Drug Administration has once again exposed a deadly menace to Americans’ health: the FDA itself. The rate of smoking has plummeted among Americans in the past decade, but now the agency’s empire-building bureaucrats are doing their best to reverse that trend.

    The FDA has ordered Juul to stop selling its electronic cigarette (popularly known as the Juul), the most effective technology ever devised for inducing smokers to quit. The agency is also proposing to limit the amount of nicotine in traditional cigarettes, an approach that has failed in the past to wean smokers off their habit—and would perversely induce them to get their nicotine in more dangerous ways, either by smoking more cigarettes or by buying full-strength ones on the black market.

    (The Quote Investigator searches for the origin of our headline quote here. It's surprisingly non-recent!)

  • The Reality-Based Community has let the barbarians inside the gates. Theoretical physicist Lawrence M. Krauss is a veteran of The War on Facts. There are numerous fronts, but Krauss starts with a major one:

    Let’s start with Education, about which I have written extensively. Free and open inquiry in the interests of generating and assessing knowledge are essential components of education. And Tenure was designed to allow scholars to explore research questions, independent of their political or social currency. Yet we are now faced with a situation where asking the wrong questions can get tenured professors fired, as David Porter was, at Berea College, for daring to produce a scholarly examination of perceptions about the nature of hostile work environments at the College. Or, where a prominent physics journal like The Physical Review can seriously publish an article suggesting that the use of white-boards in classrooms is a symptom of white privilege and systemic racism. And where the State of California can seriously consider that the mathematics curriculum is somehow racist if it requires correct answers, or the showing of work.

    We find that university leaders, journals, and scientific research institutions —from the National Institutes of Health to the American Physical Society—insist, without evidence, and ignoring over 3 decades of specific programming that have worked to ensure diversity, that systemic gender bias and racism remain rampant in the sciences. This has led, for example, to faculty searches in which white males are excluded from applying, and to enrichment programs, conferences, scholarships, and awards from which males are excluded.

    These actions are not only discriminatory, they are patronizing and unfair to women, who, it is tacitly assumed, cannot succeed in science without them, and who will have to ask themselves whether they received these distinctions due to their work, or their gender. This, in spite of the fact that females are now the dominant recipients of degrees at University, and are the dominant recipients of PhDs in a number of STEM disciplines including Biology and Health Sciences. And compounded by the fact that even questioning whether this kind of discrimination is productive can cause academics to be marginalized, censured, or fired.

    I've had a similar disquieting feeling about various "months" (e.g. "LGBT Pride Month"). Don't these good people feel that they're being condescended to? Patted on the head?

  • And then there's the war on invasive species. Christian Britschgi's Reason Roundup brings to light a battle being waged by a brave New Hampshire regiment:

    If you can't beat them, drink them. A New Hampshire distiller is combating an invasive green crab species by turning the little guys into a whiskey.

    Reports the Associated Press:

    Searching for a fresh flavor, Tamworth Distilling cast its eye to the sea. Distiller Matt Power said the company heard about the problems caused by the invasive green crabs from the University of New Hampshire Extension's Gabriela Bradt.

    The crabs, which came over on ships from Europe in the mid-1800s and landed on Cape Cod, have taken the region by storm. These saucer-size crustaceans with a murky green color have decimated the area's marine ecosystem, outcompeting native species for food and shelter.

    The crabs are caught off the coast of New Hampshire, boiled down into a broth, mixed with alcohol, and put through the distilling process. It takes about one pound of crabs to make a bottle of this whiskey.

    This called, obviously for some further Pun Salad diligent research. A commentary on the fallacy of open borders? No, probably not. Here's the distillery's page for this particular product: Crab Trapper.

    After hitching a ride on a European merchant ship in the mid-1800s, the green crab reached the shores of New England — and has been terrorizing our most vulnerable ecosystems ever since. Commonly considered one of the world’s worst invasive species, the green crab spends its days preying on native species, destroying their habitats, and competing for their food sources.

    So, how do you control an invasive species? Well, if you can’t beat ‘em, might as well eat ‘em! Or in our case, DRINK ‘EM!

    Crab Trapper is made with a bourbon base steeped with a custom crab, corn and spice blend mixture, best likened to a Low Country Boil. The crab is present lightly on the nose, accompanied by coriander and bay to smooth out any high notes. The body carries hints of the maple and vanilla oak notes lent from the full-bodied base. The spirit finishes with heavier notes of clove, cinnamon, and allspice, leaving a light, pleasant spice on the palate.

    Get your pinchers on this spirit while you can!

    A quick check shows that Crab Trapper is not available at local state-run liquor stores. Scuttling around their website, I found their price: $65 for a 200ml bottle. Also at that price: "Eau de Musc", which "uses the oil extract from the castor gland of the North American beaver."

    In comparison, 750ml of Old Crow is on sale at our socialist stores for $6.49.

    Granite Geek is also covering the Crab Booze story, and asks the pertinent question:


    The short answer is no. As Power said, they would have to greatly increase their whiskey production to put a dent in green crab numbers. But there are other efforts underway to address the crab threat.

    For the past six years, Bradt said, the NH Green Crab Project has been working to come up with uses for the crabs similar to the fishery for soft-shell blue crabs, such as using the green crabs for bait, compost and adding them to the menu of local seafood restaurants.

    Some places, including Ipswich, Massachusetts, have a bounty program that pays fishermen to remove the crabs from the estuaries. But Bradt acknowledged that until those efforts reach a much larger scale, they are unlikely to have a significant impact on crab population numbers.

    Note that the Green Crabs have been here since the mid-1800's. Back then, all my ancestors were still in Norway. So it's a real stretch to call them a "threat".

  • But the real threat to our New England lifestyle is… as reported by the WSJ (free link): Thwack. Pop. Whack. Pickleball Noises Turn Neighbors Into Activists. It's the "fastest growing sport in America"! But you know there's always a "but".

    But there’s a problem that is driving some communities to distraction: Plastic perforated pickleballs make a sound like no other when whacked with the game’s solid, rectangular paddles.

    Think of clucking one’s tongue—but through a bullhorn.

    “No one can completely understand what it’s like to sit on your back deck hearing that pop, pop, pop,” said Rob Mastroianni, a Falmouth, Mass., resident whose bungalow is just a few hundred feet from five public courts that opened at a school in late 2020.

    Mr. Mastroianni, 57 years old, is among a half-dozen residents on his street who filed a public-nuisance lawsuit this year against the town’s zoning board of appeals, contending the nearby pickleball play violates town bylaws that prohibit “injurious and obnoxious noise levels.”

    Should you be interested, the Falmouth ZBA response to the complaint is here. This is not just a "first-world problem". This is a Cape Cod Problem. Falmouth ain't Provincetown or (even) Chatham, but the median home price is a cool $640K as I type.